About This Book
The Flag with Fifty-Six Stars: A Gift from the Survivors of Mauthausen
Author: Susan Goldman Rubin
Illustrator: Bill Farnsworth
Age Range: 10 and up
Grade Level: 5 and up
Publisher: Holiday House (March 1, 2005)
The 11th Armored Divison of the U.S. army was presented with an extraordinary gift on May 6th, 1945 when they liberated the Mauthausen Concentration camp . A group of prisoners had secretly sewn scraps of jackets and sheets together to make a U.S. flag. And this was done in spite of the hopeless and desperate conditions in the prison. And the unceasing hunger of the starving prisoners.
Colonel Richard Seibel had the flag flown over the camp, even though the inmates had added an extra row of stars. He did this as a tribute to the humanity, perseverance, and spirit of the survivors of Mauthausen.
Illustrator Bill Farnsworth accurately and poignantly depicts the events. The cruelty and harshness of the situation is alluded to but not described in great detail.
There is an extensive bibliography at the end of the book as well as a photograph of the actual flag.
The Jewish Book Council
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
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About This Product
These activities can be used for individual, small group, or whole class. Small groups could be working on different activities at the same time. The book can be read aloud and selected activities done in class. They could be useful laminated and in a literacy center. It is always a better learning experience if books are discussed in pairs, in groups, or as a class, in my opinion.
Students can travel around the classroom to 3 or 4 stations answering questions about the book. The questions can be glued to butcher paper. Each station should have enough squares for all of the class to record their answer. The questions or activities
can be posted on the paper or on the wall. Students must support their answers with proof from the book.
This book would be a good introduction to the study of the Holocaust. I would recommend reading” The Terrible Things” by Eve Bunting and “Star of Fear, Star of Hope” by Jo Hoestlandt. Both are a gentle introduction to a complex and difficult concept.
Vocabulary maps for fifteen words. A partial answer key is given for each.
Decoding activity for the fifteen words with answer key
Choosing the correct spelling from four choice with the answer key
Examining the text-two pages of the text are given. Students are asked to mark the text in specific ways. They will be summarizing, drawing a picture, writing a question, highlighting certain words and phrases, and using power verbs. Answer keys are given.
Creating a timeline – a form is given and the answers are given in correct order. The events are not. Timeline technology could also be used.
Author’s purpose with partial answer key
Comprehension questions with answer key (thin questions except for the last one)
Cluster diagram – finding instances of hope (with partial answer key)
Creating conversation from written text
Writing a poem from the viewpoint of someone in the book
Thinking about the book – short answer questions
Drawing a map where the story took place
Writing a reaction to excerpts or quotations from the book
Keywords: Book Studies, Book Unit, Literature Unit, Book Activities, Picture Book Study, Social Studies, History, Mauthausen, Concentration Camp, World War II, World War,1939-1945, Liberation, Germany, Simon Wiesenthal, Flags